The idea of a constructive fight seems next to impossible, as arguments are often associated with bad blood, harsh feedbacks, and broken glasses.
To make things worse, few studies show that the more a couple engages in rolling their eyes, stonewalling (walking out), or critiquing their partner’s insignificance, the more likely the marriage will end in a divorce. However, it doesn’t have to be like that. You can rise above the immaturity of pummeling each other over a swing at the playground and make your fighting a good experience. So, put down that plate and pick up a pen. I’ve got a list of 10 steps to ensure a more productive fight.
- Make Sure That Your Anger is Not Something Else
Everything from cancer to diabetes can cause emotions to be in turmoil. If you find that you’re fighting a lot (for no apparent reason), please consider the health of your body, before you consider the mind.
- What Do You Stand to Gain?
Before every single fight begins, remind yourself what you have to gain from continuing with the argument. If the answer is nothing, then what the hell are you doing? Stop yelling and apologize already!
- Know the Rules of Mature Arguing
Fighting is a much more pleasant experience when we know the rules of engagement. Things like avoiding the word, “you” (You always become a jerk after watching football!), asking questions if you don’t understand, and staying on topic, can drastically improve your results. Things work better when a couple has the same rules to abide by, so make sure that both of you are on equal ground before the first-round bell rings.
- Shoot from the Hip
Research shows that the longer a monster stays lurking in your closet, the bigger and more hideous it will become. To avoid any conflict from brewing and becoming a huge burden over your relationship, make sure to bring it up so that you can talk about it. This doesn’t mean that you should bring up every little thing that bothers you. Remember, step two. If you don’t stand to gain anything from mentioning it, just forget it!
- First Beat the Crap Out of a Few Stuffed Animals
“Hot” anger is the number-one killer of relationships. These are the moments when things are said and done that will leave lasting scars. If you are not ready to talk about a topic with your anger under control, then stop, drop it, and set a time to reconvene. You need to be able to fight calmly over such volatile topics as cheating, lying, etc.
- Your Goal is Not to Win… But Be Heard
A fight that is about winning is as wasteful as a bank robbery to gain recognition. Most arguments come with the simple goal to be heard. Once we feel like our partner understands us, we feel better, and can go on with the relationship in peace.
- However, If You Want to Be Heard, First, Listen!
In a fight where nobody is listening, nothing is getting accomplished. By making the effort to listen to your partner, they will be more inclined to listen to you. One of the best techniques is to summarize your partner’s important points in your own words once they’ve finished speaking. They will feel understood, and you will have a better understanding of where they’re coming from before you start with your points.
- Tell Your Partner Exactly What’s Bothering You
We all hate it when a loved one tells us that nothing is wrong before they slam our eggs on the kitchen table, causing the runny yoke to splash across our face, and knock the hot coffee into our lap (true story). It shouldn’t be a secret. Tell your partner why you’re upset, or please refer to step two. And don’t repeat yourself once you do confess unless you’re asked to. You reduce the strength of your argument, each time you repeat what’s already been said.
- Describe What You Need to End the Fight
Since every fight must have a purpose (other than winning), once you are heard, make it clear what you are looking for to end the argument. Perhaps you want them to be home earlier, spend more time with the kids, or make an effort to put more romance into your relationship, tell them what you need.
Every action has its consequences, and if you want your request to avoid falling on empty air, make sure that they know the consequence for their actions if they continue to disrespect a reasonable request. Keep in mind, these are not idle threats. These are clear directives on how you intend to react if your partner continues to hurt your feelings. You must follow through with these, or your partner will never respect your feelings.